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La Jolla Playhouse’s 2023-24 season to feature Matthew Broderick’s return and a Hunter S. Thompson musical

A musical about gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, a new play starring Broadway and film star Matthew Broderick and a biography on the life and times of tennis icon Billie Jean King are among the shows announced Nov. 30 as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s 2023-24 season.

The six-show subscription season also will include a dance theater piece about living with autism spectrum disorder and a drama about the culture of sumo wrestling, as well as a final show that has yet to be announced.

Before the season kicks off in the spring, the playhouse’s annual Without Walls Festival will return April 27-30 at a new location, San Diego’s Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

In keeping with the playhouse’s mission to champion new work, all five of the productions announced so far are world premieres. Christopher Ashley, the playhouse’s Tony Award-winning artistic director, said the season celebrates the “transformative power of theater to explore potent undercurrents in our society.”

La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley

(La Jolla Playhouse)

“Whether rooted in the now or transporting us to a past that looks very much like our present, these five new works feature bold characters who possess uncommon talent, vision and courage while never failing to shed new insights and perspectives into our own world,” Ashley said in a statement.

The sixth production and full season show dates will be announced soon. Subscriptions are on sale at lajollaplayhouse.org.

Here’s the lineup:

"Love All" is a new play about tennis legend Billie Jean King, pictured in 2021.

“Love All” is a new play about tennis legend Billie Jean King, pictured in 2021.

(J. Fred Sidhu)

“Love All” by Anna Deavere Smith: The Tony-nominated playwright of “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992″ will present this new play about trailblazing tennis icon Billie Jean King. Marc Bruni (director of “Beautiful: The Carol King Musical”) will direct this biographical play, which follows the rise of King against the backdrop of massive social change in the 1960s and ‘70s. June-July

Dancer-choreographer Jenn Freeman will star in "Is It Thursday Yet?" at La Jolla Playhouse next summer.

Dancer-choreographer Jenn Freeman will star in “Is It Thursday Yet?” at La Jolla Playhouse next summer.

(Mike Esperanza)

“Is It Thursday Yet?” by Jenn Freeman: New York dancer-choreographer Freeman co-created with director Sonya Tayeh this new dance theater piece inspired by Freeman’s 2021 diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder at age 33. Dancing to her own choreography with original live music by Holland Andrews and home video footage, Freeman will explore through movement how she has navigated a sea of epiphanies over the past year in her desire to examine childhood memories through a new lens. Tayeh, who will direct the piece, is the Tony-winning choreographer of Broadway’s “Moulin Rouge.” July-August

Joe Iconis is the composer, lyricist and co-writer of the book for "The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical."

Joe Iconis is the composer, lyricist and co-writer of the book for “The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical,” which will premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in September.

(Stephanie Wessels)

“The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical” by Joe Iconis and Gregory Moss: Ashley will direct this rock ‘n’ roll musical about the life and times of Thompson, the famed counterculture writer who founded the gonzo journalism movement, an unobjective style in which the writers insert themselves into the stories they cover. Thompson died by suicide in 2005. The musical is about an artist seeking greatness and coming to terms with his own legacy. Iconis (composer of “Be More Chill”) wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the book with Moss, whose plays include “Indian Summer” and “Punkplay.” September-October

Lisa Sanaye Dring is the playwright of "Sumo," which will make its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in September.

Lisa Sanaye Dring is the playwright of “Sumo,” which will make its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in September.

(Stephanie Girard)

“Sumo” by Lisa Sanaye Dring: First presented in the playhouse’s 2021 DNA New Work Series, this is the story of six men at an elite sumo wrestling center in Tokyo. Ambitious young newcomer Akio butts heads with his fellow wrestlers, including Mitsuo, the highest-ranked competitor. The play will feature live taiko drumming. “Sumo” will be directed by Ralph Peña, artistic director of Ma-Yi Theater Company, an off-Broadway nonprofit dedicated to developing and producing new plays by Asian American writers. Ma-Yi is co-producer on the project. September-October

“Babbitt” by Joe DiPietro: Making his first trip to the playhouse since the pre-Broadway tryout of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” in the 1990s, stage and screen star Matthew Broderick will star in this stage adaptation of the 1922 satirical novel by Sinclair Lewis. Broderick will play George Babbitt, a disillusioned middle-aged real estate broker in the Midwest. Ashley will direct. He and DiPietro last teamed on the Tony-winning musical “Memphis,” which made its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in 2008. November-December

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